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Thursday, 26 July 2012

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'STAR WARS: SCOURGE'



STAR WARS: SCOURGE

A novel by Jeff Grubb


Published in paperback in the UK by ARROW

Reviewed by Scott Weller

Manipulation, intrigue and danger within a powerful Hutt clan, amidst the terrifying emergence of a dangerous new spice drug, are the key ingredients of adventure and drama facing a brand new Jedi Knight hero creation, librarian/archivist Mander Zuma, in this premiere showcase STAR WARS adventure crafted by Jeff Grubb, set within the NEW JEDI ORDER Expanded Universe: SCOURGE, out now in UK paperback by ARROW BOOKS.

The drug is Tempest, and its rapid fire spread across the universe of the New Republic has been worryingly corrupting and deadly, of which Zuma's former Padawan learner, the Pantoran hot-head Toro Irana, has recently become one of its victims. His death, in further unusual circumstances, on an Outer Rim world launches his Master's investigation, and soon personal crusade, to get to the truth and wipe out the drug and the source of its creation once and for all. Along the way, the Jedi picks up a few new allies to aid him in his cause, including lively space faring duo, the clever Bothan, Eddey Be'ray, and his equally determined to find the truth partner, and Pantoran sister to Toro Irana, Reen Irana, as they travel to the greedy and enterprising Hutt empire world of Nar Shaddaa and its powerful Anjiliac clan (a real mixed bag of up and down the scale, larger than life personalities, some of whom are not to be trifled with), following the clues and being followed themselves by a dangerous group of underworld psychos, assassins and droids from all corners of the STAR WARS universe, to a final and decisive battle on a dying world which itself brings death to life.

Mentioned in the original STAR WARS, and on and off in all kinds of Expanded Universe literature over the years, the concept of spice and spice running in the saga gets more investigation here-almost a kind of FRENCH CONNECTION "A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy far, far away...", though Zuma is no sometime anti-hero like that seventies film icon based on a real life character, Popeye Doyle. Despite his librarian status, and early doubts as to his abilities as a Jedi Knight, Zuma is reasonably well rendered, and Grubb, another in the line of authors who clearly knows his STAR WARS saga, moves the story along at a perfectly enjoyable and highly readable pace, full of twists and turns (though he does give away the villainous culprit a bit too easily in the mid-part of the novel, I thought) and some solid action set pieces. The look into the Hutt empire, the various differing Anjiliac clan members, and the main civilisation itself, is also effectively portrayed.

SCOURGE, its subject matter based on an earlier WIZARDS OF THE COAST Roleplaying Game, is ultimately a confident and sprightly debut from Grubb, of which I'm sure this will not be his one and only dip into the STAR WARS universe of novel adventures.

AFICIONADO RATING: 7 out of 10

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